Automatic Segmentation and Quantification of White and Brown Adipose Tissues from PET/CT Scans

Sarfaraz Hussein, Aileen Green, Arjun Watane, David Reiter, Xinjian Chen, Georgios Z. Papadakis, Bradford Wood, Aaron Cypess, Medhat Osman, Ulas Bagci*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

26 Scopus citations


In this paper, we investigate the automatic detection of white and brown adipose tissues using Positron Emission Tomography/Computed Tomography (PET/CT) scans, and develop methods for the quantification of these tissues at the whole-body and body-region levels. We propose a patient-specific automatic adiposity analysis system with two modules. In the first module, we detect white adipose tissue (WAT) and its two sub-types from CT scans: Visceral Adipose Tissue (VAT) and Subcutaneous Adipose Tissue (SAT). This process relies conventionally on manual or semi-automated segmentation, leading to inefficient solutions. Our novel framework addresses this challenge by proposing an unsupervised learning method to separate VAT from SAT in the abdominal region for the clinical quantification of central obesity. This step is followed by a context driven label fusion algorithm through sparse 3D Conditional Random Fields (CRF) for volumetric adiposity analysis. In the second module, we automatically detect, segment, and quantify brown adipose tissue (BAT) using PET scans because unlike WAT, BAT is metabolically active. After identifying BAT regions using PET, we perform a co-segmentation procedure utilizing asymmetric complementary information from PET and CT. Finally, we present a new probabilistic distance metric for differentiating BAT from non-BAT regions. Both modules are integrated via an automatic body-region detection unit based on one-shot learning. Experimental evaluations conducted on 151 PET/CT scans achieve state-of-the-art performances in both central obesity as well as brown adiposity quantification.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number7775001
Pages (from-to)734-744
Number of pages11
JournalIEEE Transactions on Medical Imaging
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • Abdominal Fat Quantification
  • Brown Adipose Tissue
  • Central Obesity Quantification
  • Co-Segmentation
  • Segmentation of Brown Fat
  • Visceral Fat Segmentation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Software
  • Radiological and Ultrasound Technology
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering
  • Computer Science Applications


Dive into the research topics of 'Automatic Segmentation and Quantification of White and Brown Adipose Tissues from PET/CT Scans'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this